When Dave’s wife of 27 years left, his friends told him he was in for the time of his life. He was a highly eligible bachelor. Women, they told him, were going to fall into his lap and into his bed.
But the truth of it is, Dave doesn’t want women falling anywhere near him. He wants his wife back.
It all started when Lesley said she wanted to attend college after all these years at home. She had always seemed so happy with the life he had provided for her, Dave says. They had two lovely children.
“Out of the blue one day she said she was restless, that she wanted to know more, that she felt behind the times. I said to her, ‘OK, I’ll support you in this.’ And I did. I could see how excited she was to tell me about what she was learning, about the Shakespeare she was reading. I thought I was sharing sufficiently in her excitement; I really did.”
But after a year of school Lesley told Dave she was leaving. She told him that their marriage had been stale for at least a decade but that she hadn’t known there was anything better until she had felt the vibrancy of campus life, until she had seen all the promise that people seemed to carry with them as they trooped around.
Dave found out later that Lesley had met a college administrator in the cafeteria and wanted to start seeing him. Lesley told Dave that this man hadn’t really had any bearing on her decision, and Dave doesn’t know what to believe. This whole thing is so new to him and so confusing.
“And now after I’ve been through all this, people are telling me that I’ve got it great,” Dave says incredulously. “One friend said to me, ‘Dave, you’ll be like a babe in Toyland.’ A woman I know told me with envy — and it seemed to me some anger — that I would never know the loneliness of middle-aged divorce because since I was an eligible man I could hook up with somebody right away, that there would be a million women waiting in line.”
But that kind of talk didn’t make Dave feel better. He’s old- fashioned, and he likes things to happen traditionally. He feels out of step with the way things take place these days.
“I was married and oblivious to what was happening in the way of change in the 30 years,” he says. “I wasn’t paying attention to any of it while women were out there learning that it’s OK to be aggressive. I was in a time warp, enjoying my married life, and now I am finding this all very hard to digest.”
Dave has had several dates since his separation. Two of the women asked him if he wanted to stay over. “That shocked me. I’m going to find it very hard to become a player after being married for 27 years. And anyway, I like to think that one of these days Lesley is going to come home.”
Did a divorce take you by surprise? Send your tale, along with your questions, problems and rants to firstname.lastname@example.org. And check out my ebook, “Dear Cheryl: Advice from Tales from the Front.”